Pelosi accuses McConnell, GOP of holding up coronavirus funds

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back hard against ongoing criticism from Republicans that she was responsible for the Paycheck Protection Program running out of money and for holding up legislation to replenish the popular small business loan program.

"I want to correct that record," Pelosi said Thursday on the House floor, "because nothing could be further from the truth."

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"To say we delayed this, no, you delayed this," Pelosi said, directing her ire at the Republicans and singling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Pelosi spoke on the House floor before a vote on a bipartisan $484 billion package to replenish the small business loan program that ran dry last week and to direct $100 billion for hospitals and testing. The relief package passed the Senate Tuesday by a voice vote.

Pelosi took aim at McConnell, R-Ky., for initially blocking money for hospitals that Democrats wanted and for recently saying he'll resist additional funding for state and local governments whose tax coffers are running dry during the pandemic.

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“And what did the distinguished leader on the Senate side, Mr. McConnell, say ... I think the states should go bankrupt," Pelosi said, of McConnell's recent comments in an interview. "Oh really? And not pay the health care workers, the public hospitals, first responders, and the rest. Oh really? What made you think that was a good idea? It's just more notion mongering to get attention, I guess."

Republicans have ripped Pelosi and Democrats for blocking a quick effort in the Senate on April 9 to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program with $250 billion in new funds. McConnell put the measure on the floor seeking unanimous consent, knowing there was no agreement from Democrats, who wanted additional money for local governments, hospitals and new provisions for disadvantaged businesses. Democrats put forth their plan, and McConnell rejected it.

Negotiations continued behind the scenes with the White House and a deal was reached to include the additional money for the PPP program, and money for hospitals. But instead of money for state and local governments that Democrats wanted, the new package included $25 billion for widespread testing that Democrats pushed.

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Even though the deal has broad bipartisan support – the fourth coronavirus bill in a row that has overwhelming backing – political tensions flared on the floor Thursday with both sides accusing each other over the delays.

Pelosi accused Republicans of dragging their feet on the Democrats' ideas that were largely embraced in the end.

"What we have on the floor today is a result of ... not time that we delayed the legislation, but the time that the Republicans refused to accept the fact that we needed $100 billion for our hospitals and our testing," Pelosi said.

After her speech, Rep, Kevin Brady, R-Texas, reaffirmed his earlier statement that it was Pelosi who caused the small business program to go without funds.

"I respectfully remember a different history," Brady shot back at Pelosi.

"Those critical funds were blocked and held up for 16 days. This agreement we have today could have been agreed to in five minutes."